Engagement

Encourage Work Friendships

When people start a new job they are experiencing a transition; they’re introduced to a new role, coworkers, and environment. Paying special attention to a new hire’s first several months can positively influence their chance for success with your organization. Consider incorporating opportunities for new hires to bond with current employees and start developing friendships. Having work friendships is important, they help us feel connected and therefore motivated and productive. Gallup research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.

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The Silent Start

To ensure productive meetings, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos doesn’t use presentations. He recommends starting each meeting with at least 5 silent minutes for each member to review a memo in preparation for the discussion or meeting. Although this can sound awkward at first, Bezos notes several benefits: this time inspires the undivided attention of attendees, provides direction, reduces misunderstandings, and allows attendees time to think and make notes to contribute to the conversation. Leaders who have used this tactic with their teams have noticed more meaningful conversations, increased collaboration, and shorter meetings. Try a silent start during your next team meeting.

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Cast Vision for Change

Help your team members envision a brighter future, with the change in action. While being transparent, consider what positive outcome we can all focus on as a result of the change.

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Anticipate Conflict

High performing teams, and teams of individuals who are just getting to know each other may have different ideas, visions, and opinions. As the team leader, be prepared to manage all voices and conflicts that may occur as teams are beginning to build trust and execute together.

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Establish an Employee Onboarding Team

An employee onboarding team compromised of individuals who model the organization’s culture and values can be created to own the onboarding process for incoming new hires. The onboarding team can then work with each new hire’s leader to personalize an onboarding plan in which a variety of team members may be included. Does your department have a team with a variety of members to facilitate relationship building for the new hire?

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Talk is Cheap

…unless it’s a manage up. Messaging and celebrating the impact of an individual doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple manage up of an individual’s impact in front of the larger team means more to most than a purchased prize.

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How Can You Exceed Customer Expectations?

Start by asking your customers. Find out what their expectations are, and probe customers for ways your organization can improve the customer experience. Your current customers have the best insight into your customer experience, and asking for their feedback will make them feel valued and important. Don’t forget to thank them for their input.

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Conduct an Initiative Audit

It’s hard for teams to innovate when they are pulled in competing directions. Before expecting innovation from your team, figure out if unnecessary initiatives are taking up time and energy. Conduct an initiative audit by asking your team to simply list all of the initiatives or projects they are working on. Align those initiatives to your strategic priorities and annual goals. If an initiative or project doesn’t align, consider getting rid of it. Why cloud valuable brain space with something that isn’t aligned?

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Empathetic Listening & Negotiating

Try your hand at empathetic listening and negotiating to strengthen team communication and relationships. During your next meeting, listen to other team members and strategies they are using or plan to use in the next 30 days. Before the meeting is over, communicate at least one way you will support that strategy.

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Analyze Your Communication

Barriers and silos often exist in an organization when there is a lack of effective communication. People in different departments aren’t sharing information, causing work to get repeated or the organization to send out mixed messages. Audit your communication to identify areas to eliminate barriers that are a result of inefficient communication.

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Lead by Example

Passively deal with a difficult employee by choosing to lead by example. You can’t expect others to act in ways you aren’t willing to yourself, and a positive role model just may be the push the difficult employee needs to change their behavior. Start role modeling by:

  • Using clear, consistent communication at all times.
  • Follow-up while working on projects.
  • Follow-through to meet your deadlines and commitments.
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Who’s Doing What?

To increase accountability across a team, create clarity. Ensure roles, responsibilities, and goals are clear. It’s easier to be accountable when you know who’s doing what and where the team is going.

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Unmistakable Recognition

Remember to recognize those providing unmistakable value in your organization. This recognition can be as simple as a shout-out during the next team meeting. Recognizing an employee’s commitment to being unmistakably valuable to stakeholders encourages more of this behavior and mindset across the team.

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Be Interested

Instead of focusing on the next thing you will say after the speaker is finished talking, focus on the messages being sent. Where do you need more clarification? What do you want to know more about? Develop probing and clarifying questions for the speaker to encourage them to continue communicating and facilitate deeper understanding.

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Idea Bank

As you meet with your direct reports each month, you may find you have more ideas than you can possibly implement. Come up with a system to put the best ideas in place. For example, at the end of each quarter, a leader may present the bank of ideas to their team and let them vote on which ideas to fulfill.

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Engaged Employees Inspire Loyal Customers

Employees who are engaged are more likely to be enthusiastic and emotionally attached to their work. They are fully committed to the organization and more likely to go above and beyond to provide excellent service. A positive employee experience directly enhances the customer’s experience, after all, it is your employees who create the customer experience. Take action by implementing one recommendation for increasing engagement on your team this week.

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One at a Time

After an initial communication of all organizational goals, consider focusing on one goal at a time during the next few team meetings. Use this time to help team members see how their roles connect to the larger aims and identify actions the team will take to support achievement of the goal.

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Check in with Stakeholders

Schedule time each quarter to connect with a few external stakeholders. Ask for feedback and perceptions about the organization’s progress. Directly ask if there are any trends to which you should be paying close attention.

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Connect Actions to Values

When discussing strategic direction and strategic actions with our teams, it’s helpful to connect those actions to the organization’s values to allow people to visualize the meaningful outcomes of their work.

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Plus/Delta & Why

A plus/delta tool can also aid in reflective practice. When using this tool, it is important to ensure you capture WHY each factor is a plus or a delta. The why is critical in deciding the best next steps.

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The Power of Silence

Silent feedback may seem like an oxymoron, but it can be a powerful tool for collective brainstorming and reflection. In a meeting, ask each participant to write his/her response to a given question or prompt. Then, ask them to pass their papers to right, read what their colleague wrote, and provide comments or a reaction. Continue rotating the papers until each paper gets back to its owner. Ask the owner to review all comments and provide a one-sentence summary about the contents of the entire page.

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Breakdown Goals

Support high solid performers by working with them to breakdown their 90-day goals into more manageable pieces. Identify opportunities to celebrate the small wins along the way, which add up to the completion of the goal. Celebrating small wins motivates, encourages, and retains solid-performers.

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Remember Why You Started

Don’t forget why you started on the path of continuous improvement. Regularly remind yourself and your team why changes are occurring, particularly during the tougher phases.

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Win Vs. Loss

When we’re trying to accomplish really important goals, it’s easy to forget to celebrate progress. For one week, keep a tally of the number of times you point out a set-back and a tally of the number of times you celebrate a win. Do the wins win? If you proclaimed the negative more often, try again next week. Build a habit of celebrating wins that matter.

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Ask Your Team

During connections with your team members, clarify their understanding of the strategic goals and how their roles reflect those goals. Ask, “What actions are you prioritizing this month?”. Offer feedback about how those actions align with the overall goal for the organization. This will give you an awareness of team members who might not be prioritizing the right actions and opportunities to support those individuals.

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Who Needs to Know?

Every time you make a decision or are informed about a decision by senior leadership, pause and think, ‘Who else needs to know this information?’ Next, develop a plan for executing the communication via email, telephone, social media, etc., to the employees and community members you’ve identified.

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Revisit Your Plan

Your career development map should be a living document. Revisit it every 90 days, or every 6 months to make changes and be sure it’s up to date. Don’t forget to keep track of your development progress.

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Master Storytellers

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to harvest stories for your organization. Whether the story is from a customer and can be used for marketing purposes, or from an employee and can be used to showcase company values, good organizations make an effort to collect and distribute these stories. Make it your goal to harvest at least 1 story per week.

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Question for Passion

During one-on-one conversations with potential new leaders, dig deep to learn about what motivates the individual. What part of their work do they most enjoy? What would they like to do more of? What skill areas do they think they want to develop? Connecting people with what they are passionate about at work increases results.

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Reward Mastered Skills

Monitor your aspiring leader’s progress and when a new leadership skill is mastered, recognize and reward the new leader. Individuals generally like to be recognized and rewarded in different ways, try to be as personal and specific as possible. If you are using or creating a formal new leader development program, incorporate regular reward and recognition into the program plan.

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Use “But” to Improve

When you find yourself describing a supervisee as “a great employee, but lacks punctuality,” use what comes after the “but” as an opportunity to improve that individual’s performance. Instead of accepting the one bad behavior because you think the person is a high performer, try providing support to correct the problem and help the individual become a  true high performer.

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Enlist Help From Your Team

The best person to improve a process is the person who carries out the process. Fully utilize employee skill-sets – can someone be doing more? If the process is improved, they will likely have time to take on higher level work.

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See it – Reward it

Recognize the right behavior right away. Don’t wait until it’s time for a quarterly or yearly recognition program. Make it a habit to recognize performance that deserves to be rewarded.

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Align Your Team One Step at a Time

Identify one thing at a time you can do, or stop doing, to make sure your leadership team is on board and then commit to taking action. It’s the senior leader’s ultimate responsibility to align the executive leadership team.

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Recognize the Good

Confronting organizational issues gives the leader the opportunity to teach important lessons about behavioral norms and living the values of the organization. Use positive examples of colleagues leading by example especially through a conflict or challenge. By recognizing and rewarding colleagues for living the mission of the organization, this clarifies the expectation for all employees in the organization by demonstrating what right looks like.

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Reach Out & Learn

Have someone you would love to learn from? Approach them! Be ready to make the commitment to bettering yourself and your career today.

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Round with Middle Leaders

Are your middle leaders confident in their abilities to execute your most recent goals? Could they use a hand? Take the time to find out what they need to feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals.

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Become an Active Mentor

Reflect on your current connections and pinpoint someone you think would love to establish a mentor/mentee relationship with you and set up a meeting to talk about the possibility.

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A Fresh Take: Observe & Report

Conduct a Plus/Delta with the participants at the end of your next board or team meeting. Observe dynamics in the discussion, is every leader an active participant?

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There is Always Time for a Smile

Next time you’re rushing to that next meeting, look up and give the people you’re zooming past a smile or a quick hello. The difference it could make to their day, and your own, is bigger than you might anticipate.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do we get people to trust? We start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Break Down Big Goals

Bigger goals become more manageable when broken up into smaller, less disconcerting, achievements. Apply this method to a personal goal as well.

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What We Permit We Promote

When you see or hear someone that is not adhering to the standards, speak up. At the same time compliment those that are living the values and mission of the organization and encourage others to recognize values-driven behavior as well. As a leader, you are not only obligated to live your mission, vision and values, you are responsible for ensuring others do as well.

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Put Your Network Before Yourself

Look for opportunities to provide value and support to others. Offering feedback or advice, acting as a trusted mentor, or providing a quality referral for an open job position all have a positive effect on your reputation.

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Reflect on Turnover

Is your organization or department retaining talent? Is there room for improvement in your hiring process? Chances are there is ample space to make stronger hiring decisions. Apply just one new method to your next round of interviews.

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Keep the Purpose in Mind

Approach each conversation – formal and informal – with a specific purpose. Set clear expectations with your team.

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Non-Dominant Hand Practice

Time yourself writing your name with your non-dominant hand. Then, time yourself writing your name with your dominant hand. Relate that to the time wasted when we, or our team members, are asked to work outside of our strengths. Think about how you or your team members can spend more time working within their strengths.

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Make Meaningful Connections Simple

Connecting personally with your employees makes them feel heard and valued. Take the time to connect with one employee today on a personal level. For example, if you heard an employee got a new pet, ask about it.

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Communicate to Connect

The most effective communicators are those who can connect the dots for others in a way that creates clear understanding and leads to the desired outcome. After connecting with a group, our goal is always to accomplish three things:

1) make sure the listener understands the outcome or the results of the technique or tool,

2) explain how to implement the expected action, and then

3) tell a story that illustrates the impact. The key is moving from people to action.

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One Step at a Time

Review the strategic actions of a current goal and break the actions into smaller steps to be measured with more frequency. This will create the opportunity for small, achievable wins that build momentum and confidence within the team.

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Lead by Example

Be aware of your actions as a leader but also be aware of the actions of the leadership team. All eyes in the organization are looking to you to commit to excellence and lead by example.

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Display Trust in Others

Start your day by speaking with each employee. Make a personal connection, know about them and their family. Ask colleagues how you can assist them in meeting their goals. Ask colleagues if they have the tools needed to be successful. Eat lunch in the break room with colleagues.

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Achievable Does Not Mean Easy

Unachievable goals have the potential to deflate and demotivate teams when time runs out and the target is not reached. Keep your team motivated and success realistically incremental by setting challenging, but achievable goals.

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Create Goal Champions

Identify an executive champion for each organizational goal. That leader works with the team to break the goal into smaller chunks and each person takes responsibility for part of the goal. On a weekly basis, talk about actions each person is taking to achieve the goal and celebrate milestones accomplished.

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Know Your Audience

Communication can be used to effectively lead change. To help craft key change messages and cascade them throughout the organization, executive teams must work closely together to identify the audiences within an organization that should be targeted and reached with consistent and accurate information. It is also the responsibility of leadership to draw clear lines that connect each employee’s role to the organization’s mission and strategic actions.

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Values Start from the Top

Team members look to the leader to set the expectation. Leaders must lead by example and align their actions to the values of the organization. To become a credible leader, you must genuinely and consistently stand up for your beliefs and principles.

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Planned Communication

Pre-planning for conversations with employees is the sign of a high-performing leader. Preparation is necessary for identifying a clear outcome from the communication, as well as the specific feedback we want to share. Identify the Key Words you will use during the conversation as well as any recent accomplishments or recognition to highlight.

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EQ is a Must-Have for Leader Success

“Emotional intelligence, not knowledge, education or experience, is the key driver in leader success. To excel in personal competence, one must exercise high levels of self-awareness and self-management. To achieve at high levels in the area of social competence, one must be skilled in social awareness and relationships management. Gaps in any of these 4 EQ skill areas could contribute to individual performance gaps that will negatively impact employee engagement and organizational results.”

Source: Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

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Empower People to Solve Problems

Good processes arise when the workforce is empowered to identify and solve problems to achieve excellence. Process improvement reinforces and accelerates a culture of performance excellence. Encourage people to be problem solvers by bringing a solution with every problem.

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Grow Your Own Program

Set up an exploratory pipeline program for new leaders interested in building career options within the organization. Partner a potential successor with the leader serving in a position soon to open to complete current projects, especially ongoing or challenging projects, to learn about the position and processes. Conduct ongoing talent review discussions to keep options and opportunities open for rising talent. Invest in talent development training for rising successors.

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Build Strong Relationships

When you consistently treat people with respect, transparency, fairness, and gratitude, you’re building a strong emotional bank account with them. Our own happiness and success are largely dependent on the relationships we build with others. Having a good friend in the workplace increases satisfaction at work according to Gallup. Take one action today to build a stronger relationship with your coworkers.

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Be Specific with Reward and Recognition

As part of the Reward and Recognize principle, we encourage the development of systems and processes to notice and recognize great work. We know that to be most effective we cannot leave recognition to chance. Making reward and recognition is specific is key. To get started, set up a notebook to build on the processes you already have in place. Arrange tabs in the following categories and document processes as they are developed: Celebrating weekly wins, peer-to-peer recognition, individual notes of thanks, department/group celebration, and formal public recognition.

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Expressing Gratitude Becomes Contagious

Openly thank employees and provide specifics about why you are thanking them, or send them a “thank you” note. Place a “thank you” sticky note with specific feedback on someone’s desk or computer. Bring someone a cup of coffee from time to time or ask a colleague how you can be helpful to them.

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Paint a Picture with Your Team

Fully activating a strategic plan and engaging all employees includes setting the stage and helping your team visualize the destination. How can you paint a picture of what the future will look like once the vision is accomplished? How will you inspire your team to enthusiastically embrace the vision and the strategic plan? Create a story to help your employees visualize your organization in 5 years and use your employees in the starring roles. Include in the storyline, what right looks like, and ask each employee how they see themselves supporting these goals. What actions will they take?

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Organize Your Feedback

The plus/delta tool is an effective way to keep feedback organized. As electronic file sharing continues to be a positive trend in organizations, consider leveraging electronic tools for feedback gathering. Teams might use a shared plus/delta document to collect feedback about wins and challenges, if a particular process is ongoing. The notes made on the plus/delta can then be examined at each team meeting.

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Connect to the Heart

Thinking about and plotting staff on a performance curve can feel a bit mechanical. While this task is guided by the head, it is a prerequisite for connecting to the heart of employee performance. The ability to have meaningful conversations that support growth of individual employees is only possible once a leader has an accurate picture of each employee’s current performance. Differentiating staff is not just about placing a name on a curve, but about reflecting on opportunities to maximize each employee’s potential.

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Boost Your Low Solid Performers

Low solid performers are important members of our team. While they might need coaching around a particular skill, they are often eager to grow. Low solid performers are committed to the organization, but can also be easily influenced by negative, low performers. To best support a low solid performer, partner them with positive, high performers for skill development opportunities.

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Grow Owners

Owners are deeply committed to organizational performance. They often take personal responsibility when things go wrong and immediately begin looking for solutions. This is the type of behavior organizations seek to replicate. To grow owners in your organization, find ways to deliberately and publicly highlight displays of ownership behavior in others.

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Engage at All Levels

An employee forum can either be viewed as a valuable learning opportunity or as a waste of time. To ensure your next employee forum is an engaging and informative experience, think about the message you want to send and how to make the message relevant for each employee group. Incorporate clear connections to the work of each group in your presentation. Ask yourself, “Does the message tell employees how their work contributes to the whole?”

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Get the Team Involved in Action Planning

90-day planning helps us focus on the 90-day priorities and actions that will move us closer to achievement of annual goals. These plans also help to focus our teams. Presenting goals in achievable chunks creates opportunity to celebrate success along the way or make adjustments where needed. Invite your team to provide input as you draft the next 90-day plan.

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Devote Time to Listening

As leaders, we do some things well and others not so well. Our perception is not always the perception of others. When we ask employees what we can do to be a better leader, we build emotional bank accounts with them. Now is the time to listen rather than react to the problem. After the discussion, continue to leverage relationships by following-up with specific actions we will take to improve.

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It’s More than a Note

Organizations generally reward and recognize employees, but too often it has been the equivalent of a generic pat on the back. If we get specific about the behaviors we reward and recognize, we’ll go much further toward encouraging others to practice those behaviors. Plus, it’s important to create systems for recognition, such as writing a certain number of thank-you notes. Handwritten notes sent to employees’ homes can have a huge impact on their lives.

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Tell Your High Performers You Want Them to Stay

Retaining high-performers is absolutely key to the success of the organization. Top-performing employees drive the culture and achieve quality results. When conversing with these employees, try saying, “We want to make sure you are with us for a very long time. Is there anything that would cause you to think about leaving? Are you satisfied with your work here? Are you moving in the direction you want to go?”

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Data is a Force that Drives Change

More than a force, it is a powerful tool for aligning both the goals and values of an organization. How? Data provides evidence. When employees see the evidence behind the work they do, they feel a sense of ownership and hold themselves accountable for achieving results. Thus, they continuously strive to achieve the organization’s overall goals and values. Do you present data at your organization in an intentional, meaningful way?

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Take Time to talk

Leader Connection Questions are key to employee satisfaction. The better employees feel about their work environment, the greater opportunity they have to achieve results. Why ask employees these crucial connection questions? They give employees the opportunity to provide input and share areas working well and processes to be improved. Employees feel like valuable members of the team. As we know, when employees feel valued, they will always do more than what is expected.

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Relationships Over Data

As a new leader in an organization or role, it’s important to gain a deep understanding of the data, measures, and goals related to your work. But remember the data is not more important than the people. Be aware of your attitudes, behaviors, and energy; these days set the tone for your future and establish credibility. Act transparently and be open with people. Avoid any temptation to isolate yourself or focus on data over relationships. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try inviting a colleague to lunch away from the office.

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Monitor Social Channels

Often times the first place people will look for information about an organization is on their social media pages. Organizations should have a plan for posting updates and messages about a crisis to social channels such as twitter. They should also be prepared to monitor those channels (sometimes 24 hours a day depending on the severity of the crisis) to gauge the audience’s perception of the incident and further guide communication.

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What’s a Win?

As teams set out to achieve new goals, meet and define what will determine positive progress is being made towards the goals. What does success look like? How can we recognize the individuals responsible for each piece of the project? Intentionally design opportunities to celebrate wins into your next or current project.

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Set Realistic Performance Goals

It’s important for goals to be difficult to achieve, to challenge us. However, too much of a challenge can cause extreme stress leading to burnout. A study from Gallup reveals setting realistic performance goals is a better indicator of work-life balance than allowing flexible work arrangements. For those employees who are at risk of burnout, revisit their goals to determine if they are realistic, or if they need adjusting.

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Take a Break

786 million vacation days went unused for Americans in 2018. Research reveals 55% of American’s didn’t use all of their allotted PTO. Use time off to recharge, enjoy new experiences, and connect with friends and family. While many high performers may struggle internally with taking a break from work, a vacation is proven to increase productivity, energy, and optimism.

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Consult Current Employees

While creating job descriptions or new job roles, ask your current employees for their opinions and feedback. It’s likely that current team members have a unique perspective on what a role will require and what skills the company should be looking for.

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Focus on Growth & Development

When crafting a job description and searching for highly talented candidates, it’s important to focus on how this person will contribute to the overall success of the organization. Don’t create a list of endless responsibilites. What opportunities will they have to grow and develop their skills? How will the candidate’s achievements in this role align to business objectives and advancement opportunities?

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Take Pride in Your Work

Execute your responsibilities to the best of your ability. Your work is a reflection of your personal accountability. Identify ways to go above and beyond in your work to exceed the expectations of your leader and team, and positively affect the organization’s results.

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Fulfill a New Passion

Identify an area within your organization about which you are passionate. Have a conversation with your leader about ways to incorporate this passion into your work.

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Guide Employees to Connect to Purpose

To help employees better connect to their purpose, ask them purpose-related questions during one-on-one meetings. Here are a few examples:

  • What do you most enjoy about your work with us?
  • Is there anything you wish you could contribute to?
  • What do you value personally and professionally?
  • How can I as your leader better support your purpose?
  • What about your role are you most proud of and least proud of?
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Use High Performers to Guide

Low solid performers are committed to the organization, but can also be easily influenced by negative, low performers. To best support a low solid performer, partner them with positive, high performers for skill development opportunities.

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Encourage Solid Performers

Solid performers want to build relationships with their leaders, have opportunities for professional development, and hear feedback that inspires improvement. Identify the solid performers on your team, and help them grow by identifying one skill or area for improvement at a time. Ask engaging questions to gain reflective insight and possible solutions from the employee. Ask how you can support their growth and professional development.

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4 Steps to Re-Recruit High Performers

  1. Thank them for their contributions.
  2. Ensure that the employee is informed of the direction of the organization.
  3. Review the characteristics that make the individual valuable to the organization, be specific.
  4. Ask what can be done to ensure you do not lose the employee as a member of the team; reiterate that person’s importance to the organization’s mission.

Listen carefully and follow through with any requests for support.

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Ask Your High Performers

Ask what high performing employees need to be a long-term employee; what can you do for them? Coach this individual to take on new responsibilities or reach new levels of performance.

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Specific is Authentic

Generalized appreciation doesn’t feel authentic and may even come off as just going through the motions. Instead, use details and be specific about the person and their actions. This will show you are really paying attention and value the receiver.

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Create an Appreciation Board

Write one thank you note thanking one employee for extra effort at work, post the note on the board, and provide blank cards and pens for others to add their own notes. Intentional expressions of gratitude by leaders provide opportunities for peers to express gratitude and help employees reconnect to purpose and worthwhile work.

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Service Sets You Apart

Think from your customer’s point of view; what does your organization do to provide its customers with unmistakable value? How do your employees create loyal stakeholders? Do you see room for improvement?

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Recognize Service Excellence

Who provides unmistakable value within your organization? Who follows the standards for service excellence? When you see it, recognize it! Thank this person for living the organization’s values and being an example of what right looks like. You can let them know on the spot, or bring it up during your next team meeting. Recognizing the behavior and actions that are most important to our organization’s success positively reinforces the performance we want to have continued.

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Connect to Serve

When leaders help their teams connect their daily work to a greater purpose, people become motivated to serve. Behind all of the daily tasks, what is the ultimate outcome and what actions can your team take to get there? Help your team connect to purpose while providing clear directions for serving stakeholders.

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Salute Customer Praise

Collect customer comments that reflect the unmistakable value your organization provides. Share those comments with your team to open up team meetings or as a quick email to remind them of the difference they make by providing unmistakable value to those they serve.

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From Employee Engagement Surveys to Action

After the employee engagement survey results are calculated, gather your team and talk about the results. What ideas does the team have for improving the lowest items? What items are most important to them? After you’ve recorded their priorities, develop an action plan to present to the team. When leaders are transparent with their action plans, teams know their leader is committed to increasing their engagement levels.

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Learn from Mentees

Both a mentor and mentee can benefit from valuable feedback from one another. The original purpose of the relationship may be to guide the mentee, however, mentors can learn a thing or two from those with less professional experience. Next time you meet with your mentee ask for their perspective on an upcoming decision or project or ask for feedback around your leadership style.

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Find a Copilot

A copilot mentoring relationship is reciprocal. Both parties can rely on each other for help navigating the personalities in the workplace, talking through projects, and holding each other accountable. Think of a copilot that would help you improve your engagement level and the quality of your work.

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Establish a Mentorship Program

64% of managers say they don’t think their own employees will be able to keep pace with skills needed in the future and only 20% have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career. Organizations can capitalize on their own employees to fill in any skills gaps by establishing a mentorship program. This can be more formal one-on-one mentoring, peer-to-peer mentoring, or group mentoring. Get started by asking your employees what they hope to get out of their future mentorship program.

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Turn Aspiring Leaders into Mentors

To encourage the development of aspiring leaders, offer them the opportunity to mentor the organization’s newest employees. Not only will your aspiring leaders learn how to coach others, but the organization will see a variety of benefits from reduced turnover to increased morale.

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Ask How to Improve Communication

Gather feedback from your employees and the community (investors, customers, people who benefit from your organization) regarding your communication. Do they receive too much communication, or too little? Are they able to understand the communication and find it relevant? What improvements do they recommend? Review the responses and tailor the organization’s communication practices to their preferences.

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Reduce Communication Barriers

What communication tools, procedures, or standards are causing a barrier in your workplace? Is there a better solution for that communication tool or process? Take the steps to reduce the barrier and increase the quality of the communication tool or standard being used.

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Communicate by Listening

Individuals want to be heard and able to share their ideas. Leaders who are able to develop good relationships with their employees are likely good listeners. To become a better listener, be attentive, ask open-ended questions, ask probing questions, request clarification, paraphrase, be compassionate and empathetic, and summarize back the information you heard to ensure its accuracy and let the communicator know they are heard.

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Use Social Media to Increase Transparency

Social media facilitates transparent communication by reaching your community where they already spend time. How can your organization use social media to create an authentic connection with its audience? What about posting a quick ‘behind-the-scenes’ picture or the answer to a frequently asked question? Identify one thing you can do this week to show your organization’s authenticity on social media and post it!

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Clarify Decision Making

Be open with all employees in the organization about the decision-making process. The more information an individual has about why and how a decision was made, the less anxious and uncertain they may feel. During conversations with your teams this week, make it a point to be transparent and start by explaining the why.

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Harvest Wins from Data

One way to use data you’ve collected is to identify wins from the results and follow-up with a celebration. When you begin to review your data, start by looking for 3 wins you can pass on to your teams and celebrate.

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Use Data to Action Plan

Collecting data is meaningless if we aren’t analyzing the data for opportunities and improvements. After data has been collected, analyzed, and shared, develop an action plan using information from these discussions. Set a challenging but achievable goal. Resist the temptation to set too many goals and stick to 1-3 to focus on.

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Sharing Data

After we have gathered data, it’s important to close the feedback loop and share the results with our organization’s stakeholders, such as employees and the community. Conversations with stakeholders around the data provide opportunities to gain additional information and identify wins, gaps, and possible strategies for reducing gaps.

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Use Scorecards to Communicate Purpose

Using a scorecard, help employees see how their daily actions inspire progress that leads to meaningful results. Employees are more likely to be engaged when they see how their work aligns to the organization’s mission and values.

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Use Probing Questions

Rather than risk alienating a team member with constructive criticism, try probing questions to initiate improvement. Start with: “Have you experienced any barriers to achieving results recently? How did you work through that?” Then, probe: “Can you think of a time you’ve experienced a similar barrier? What did you do?” Offer suggestions by explaining what has worked for you in a similar situation. Close by asking: “What actions could you take to grow and develop your skills? How can I help you?”

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Culture of Care

Employees who feel that they’re cared about by their leader are far more likely to be engaged with their daily work and continue to work for the organization. Listen to individuals, tell them why you value them, and have empathy for their situations.

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Commit to Monthly Meetings

Employees want leaders who are approachable, work alongside them, provide training and development opportunities, build a relationship with them, and utilize efficient systems. These needs can be met by participating in one-on-one monthly meetings with individuals you supervise. Make a commitment today by scheduling monthly meetings for next month.

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Meet with Leaders First

Ask the leadership team to participate in a Leadership Forum prior to the organization-wide employee forum. Explain what the employee forum will look like and gather feedback to ensure it’s successful. Include the information needed for leaders to continue to reinforce the message with their teams over the next 90 days.

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Anticipate Questions

In preparation for an employee forum, consider sending out a request for questions from employees beforehand.  Doing so will give some employees more time to think about what they would like to ask the senior executive, as well as prepare the leader by reviewing what information employees are curious about.

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Plan for Fun

When planning for the executive leader to host an employee forum, consider developing a theme and include costumes, role-plays, decorations, food, door prizes, and music. For example, if the organization’s focus is on overcoming obstacles, the theme could be ‘the Olympics.’ Senior leaders who present can dress up as athletes, and medals can be awarded to activity participants or those with outstanding results last quarter.

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Recognize Performance

Plan to recognize at least three individuals or teams for their exceptional work at your next employee forum. Include results harvested from your leadership team. Consider opening with these “wins” to begin the forum on a positive note.

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Discuss Available Leadership Development

What resources can upcoming leaders take advantage of to develop their skills? Are there external professional development opportunities available? Can aspiring leaders easily access the necessary resources? Connect with identified aspiring leaders and show them the available resources aligned to their leadership development needs.

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Get Aspiring Leaders Involved

While supporting the development of an aspiring leader, involve them with real-life situations that present an opportunity for decision making or problem-solving. New leaders can also develop skills in these areas by conducting role-play scenarios and reviewing case studies.

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Connect with Aspiring Leaders

Once you’ve identified upcoming leaders within the organization, get to know them better. Identify their skills and what areas can be improved. During one-on-one meetings with aspiring leaders, ask for their input on how they can build their needed skills. Strive to provide upcoming leaders with additional opportunities to own key outcomes.

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Increase Engagement

Ask employees you supervise what is one of their strengths or talents. Find a way to incorporate their strength into their responsibilities. According to Gallup (2014), focusing on individual strengths makes employees “six times more likely to be engaged.”

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Recognize Strengths

During one-on-one meetings with employees, provide specific praise in relation to the employee’s strengths. Communicate how the employee uses their specific strength to accomplish organizational goals.

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Align Actions to Strengths

When aligning the goals of the organization to actions for specific employees, first consider each employee’s strengths. To increase employee engagement and productivity, distribute the actions according to each individual’s strengths.

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Stop and Celebrate

Some projects take years to complete, others are never complete due to consistent advances in technology. Take time to stop and reflect on the projects that you lead. Have you celebrated the small wins along the way? Have you taken time to recognize and appreciate all of the work that has gone into the project? Leaders who reflect on the team’s progress, recognize it and celebrate it, keep the team motivated for the long run.

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Listen for Understanding

Avoid the temptation of listening to others only to prepare yourself for a response. The act of listening helps us better understand those around us. Pause for 5 seconds to make sure the person is done talking before you begin your response. Consider responding with a probing question or a clarifying statement to be sure you’re understanding the message correctly.

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Recognize New Team Members

While introducing new team members to other employees in the organization, boast about their previous success, experience, and how they are a great asset to your organization. Reduce any anxieties and confirm that you are happy and the new employee is a good fit for your team.

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Satisfaction Surveys

How do you know your stakeholders are satisfied? The best way is to ask. Create a stakeholder feedback survey and distribute it to customers, clients, the community, parents, etc., to gather essential data used for decision making and future success.

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Evaluate Your Recognition

Is recognition in your organization leader-driven or employee-driven? Do rewards align with the recommended behaviors and values of the organization? How often do individuals get recognition? More than once per year? Evaluate your recognition processes at least once per year and strive to make recognition as employee-centered and engaging as possible.

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Recognize Using Social Media

Incorporate rewarding and recognizing team members into your social media strategy. People are attracted to their ’15 minutes of fame’ and sharing a post recognizing team members publicly is an easy way to make them feel appreciated and a way to show the community what you value. If your organization doesn’t use social media, consider a consistent spot in the newsletter instead.

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Track Recognition

Using the recognition tracking form or a similar process, record who you’ve acknowledged and why. If you supervise others, track who recognizes who and why. This allows you to see who and what is being recognized as well as performance trends.

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Stay True to Your Organization

Employees feel valuable and motivated when they are recognized for their contributions. Authentic, consistent, and specific recognition aligned with the organization’s values is the most effective. Aim for recognition that feels organic rather than forced.

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Value Based Recognition

Recognize an employee of the month for living out organizational values or create an opportunity for peers to reward each other monthly for living out values.

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Weekly Connections

Connect with your team once a week for 10-15 minutes. Each member reports: one win/progress made, what step they’re taking next, and any potential barriers to achieving their goal.

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Use Feedback to Motivate

Many individuals crave feedback at work. It lets us know we’re on the right track, and reveals areas for improvement. The best feedback results from asking questions such as, “What is going well and why is it going well?,” “Are you experiencing any barriers? Why?,” and “How have you overcome similar barriers in the past?.” Use these prompts next time you’re providing feedback to a team member.

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Offer Freedom within the Fences

The most successful organizations are those that offer employees “freedom within fences.” The standards and expectations are collaboratively set, based on the organization’s goals. Then, leaders and employees creatively operate within the fence. This type of structure is not about control. Progress is monitored and direction is provided for how to achieve success.

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One Step at a Time

Annual or 90-day goals broken into bite-sized pieces create the opportunity for small, achievable wins that build momentum and confidence within the team. Use these small achievements as an opportunity to celebrate progress towards the goal.

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Encourage a Welcoming Culture

Have a plan in place for welcoming new team members. Don’t allow them to wander alone on their first day. Let them know where to park, how to dress, what the lunch policies are and, if possible, partner the newbie with a seasoned team member to show them around the office and introduce them to all of their coworkers. Ask your team to contribute their ideas for welcoming new members.

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Recognition Team

Establish a service team of individuals who are responsible for creating reward and recognition programs and ideas for your organization. Individuals respond differently to various forms of recognition. By using a team to create reward and recognition programs there will be a greater variety of them.

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Engage People with Feedback

Formal and informal conversations with individuals provide us with feedback we can immediately use to improve employee engagement. If an employee expresses a need for a tool to get their job done, provide the employee with a time frame for when they will receive what is needed. Follow-up on the information you gathered to close the loop.

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From Feedback to Actions

Identify 1-2 specific, high-leverage next steps from stakeholder feedback that will make the biggest difference to those you serve and drive the results you aim to achieve.

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Forward Virtual Wins

When you receive an email from a customer or client celebrating an individual who makes a difference in your organization, spread the love. Forward the email to your entire team. Not only does it provide an example of what the right behavior looks like, but it will also help the team stay connected to their purpose.

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What is Their Preference?

Do your customers prefer an email or a phone call? Do they prefer 1 email a week, or 1 email a month? Learn your customers’ preferences and use the information to ensure they’re engaged the way they prefer.

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Develop Norms for Emails

Create organizational standards for email communication. Should the sender receive a response within 24 hours? Are your employees expected to answer emails after-hours? After email standards have been created, leadership will set an example by role-modeling the expected behaviors.

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Analyze The Process

Today, examine one process you or your team uses most frequently to eliminate extra steps and identify ways to improve. The most effective processes are simple, rather than complex, and are revisited regularly for efficiency.

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Quick Wins

Invite a coworker to have a cup of coffee or bring them a small gift to celebrate a job well done or personal accomplishment.

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Ask Your Boss

“What is the one area in which you would most like me to place an extra focus?” and proceed to exceed their expectations.

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Be Open to Feedback

Thank your colleague who cares enough to speak up and provide you with feedback. Feedback is a caring gesture meant to help you grow.

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Go Where You’re Happiest

Today spend more time with people who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.

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The Joy of Reward

Recognize your high performers by giving them more responsibility or an opportunity to work in an area they are most passionate about.

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Feedback to Inspire

While giving critical feedback, remind the recipient that you believe in them and their abilities, the goal you are collectively trying to achieve, and the new information they need to drive to excellence.

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Question for Better Answers

Instead of asking, “Do you have any questions?,” ask, “What can I explain better?” You can probe further by asking, “Can you be more specific?,” “What makes you say that?,” “Can you give me an example?,” and “Why do you think that’s working?”

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Use Fun to Motivate

Come up with a way to incorporate ‘FUN’ into a workday. To get people excited, you have to be excited. Why shouldn’t work be fun?

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Value People’s Ideas

When someone comes to you with an idea, sincerely thank them for it. We give others value when we let them know their ideas are important.

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Show Value by Asking Questions

Learn something new about an employee by asking them about their family or interests. Value is created when we show interest and concern for their well-being.

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Celebrate Your Newbies

Welcome new members of your team before they begin their first day. People want to go where they are celebrated, not merely tolerated.

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Show Your Team They Fit

Ensure everyone on your team has a place, a purpose, is prepared, and is passionate about what they do.

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Objective Evaluations

Adopt and commit to an objective, measurable, leader evaluation tool and hold leaders accountable for the results.

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Get Personal

Individually ask your team members a personal question today. Investing in the emotional side of your team builds the trust required to achieve excellence.

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Support Your Colleagues

Add time in your meetings today to give the opportunity for others to share their ideas. This will encourage diverse thinking and problem solving.

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What Gets Recognized Gets Repeated

Set clear expectations by immediately recognizing individuals who are doing the right things in the right way.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do you get people to trust? Start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Prioritize for Joy

Identify what priorities will allow you to lead a happy life and let those things guide you.

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Finding Meaning

All of us want to be a key player on a team that achieves something meaningful. Take time today to connect your team to the deeper purpose of the work you do. Reveal a deeper meaning behind your business strategy and actions the team carries out on a daily basis.

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Celebrate people

Recognizing when things go well is one of the most effective ways to get more of what we want. Publicly recognize a member of your team for a job done right.

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Guide to Purpose

Leaders help all employees find purpose in their work. Connect employees to what’s most meaningful to them. Ask, “What did you enjoy working on this past year? Why?” Then, help them align their upcoming goals to the organization’s overall strategy, using their response.

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Building Trust

Whether it’s the strategic direction or leadership decisions, building trust in an organization takes a consistent demonstration of action aligned to words. It also requires that trust first be given. Do you trust your team to do what they say they will do?

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